I’m doing Central-America in a pretty short time, about 5 weeks. I have a flight to Los Angeles from Cancun in Mexico right before Christmas where I’ll spend 5 days. This means I have to skip some places in Central-America and I chose to skip Honduras for some reasons. First of all, I was entering Honduras along the Pacific coast and all the attractions are located on the Caribbean side which would have meant a lot of buses getting there. In addition to this I the countries in this region offers a lot of the same things: jungle, Maya ruins, beaches and volcanoes – so I felt I could do this in the other countries. Last but not least, Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries in the world which also made it pretty easy to skip. Just to be clear, I wasn’t afraid and I’m actually heading to the world’s most dangerous country (outside a war zone), El Salvador. But, it’s always fun to get a new stamp in the passport – and I actually took a selfie in the bus too, not bad!
Sorry for the spoiler alert in the headline, but this country was nice in many ways! Coming from Costa Rica I would say CR and Nicaragua offers pretty much the same kind of attractions and experiences: beach, surf and hiking – three things I don’t mind at all.
San Juan is a small coastal town by the Pacific ocean. Everything here is a little smaller, cheaper and less developed compared to Costa Rica. Here you don’t find the big hotels along the beaches, the mountains are not as high but one thing was bigger here; the waves. I had a hard time catching them since they were a lot faster, bigger and more powerful – but to progress your skills, no matter what it is, you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone. The relaxed vibe here in addition to the beautiful small colored streets and houses makes it easy to “kill” a couple of days in this place.
After many weeks by the ocean I was really looking forward to go hiking again. I went to an island in Lake Nicaragua called Ometepe which consists of two volcanoes. I went here mainly to get away from the ocean for some days and to do some hiking, but this turned out to be some very interesting days – and I’m not talking about the hiking. On the boat on my way to the island I met a girl from Nicaragua (now living in the US) and we got to know each other on the boat ride and it was interesting to hear her stories growing up in a poor country like Nicaragua. We also made a plan to leave together the same day and go to the city of Leon. I’m so grateful I met her both as a person and also for helping me getting to Leon. The day I went there was the day before a big holiday here so the buses were PACKED with people and it would have taken me many hours getting there. She had connections in Nicaragua so we were lucky driving a car to Leon instead of taking the bus. That saved me many hours and a lot of energy – so if you read this: muchas gracias, señorita!
Though, the most interesting part of Ometepe island was staying with a local family. When arriving I went to a hostel, but since I was the only one there they invited me to stay in their home instead – which I gladly said yes to. Even though they only spoke Spanish we could understand each other a little bit. It was interesting to see and feel how it is to live under such circumstances. As a refrigerator they used a bucked which they filled with ice that they got from the neighbor who were lucky enough to have a freezer. I like to think that I have perspective on both the world and my own life, but you can never be reminded too many times how lucky we are living in the northern parts of Europe. I’m a very honest person, but I felt I had to take a white lie when the family asked me for how long I was traveling; I said just for 2 weeks in Nicaragua then back home. The world is sometimes an unfair place and I didn’t want to remind this family of that fact, since none of the family members had ever left their own country and I’m traveling for more than a year and have visited all of the continents multiple times.
So, all in all Nicaragua was a place I really liked. The only thing I didn’t like about my visit here, was that it was so short – only a week, but considering the life I’m living I guess that’s a luxury problem.
Ask yourself this; if you won a 100 million dollars on the lottery – what life would you live? And I’m NOT talking about what fancy house you would buy or that Italian sportscar – but how you would fill your days and live your everyday life. Most of you reading and asking yourselves this, probably are capable of living this life already today – you just have to reach out and grab it!
So what would I do if money were no object? I would live “Pura Vida” as they say here in Costa Rica – meaning Simple Life. The thing I treasure the most in life (after family, friends and health) is freedom. Freedom to choose how I want to live my life. Sometimes all you need to be really happy is a pair of board shorts, a surfboard and some alright waves. To top it all off; add a beautiful sunset. This pretty much describes my days in Costa Rica.
I spent only 6 days in Costa Rica in a surf town called Tamarindo. It’s the start of the dry season and I was lucky going here right after the big hurricane Otto, which I was told was very wet. The high season for tourism here starts around Christmas, so there were no crowds worth mentioning now but some visitors and mostly Americans. Costa Rica is the most developed country in Central America and due to the high numbers of Americans visiting it’s highly influenced by America – but I don’t mind. I love Uncle Sam.
The days usually started with my morning walk on the beach (except one day being really hung-over). After some relaxing on the beach, the high tide came in after lunch and the afternoons was spent surfing. I’m glad I met three American guys from Lake Tahoe in California to spend the days and nights with. We had kind of the same mentality, coming from the countryside all of us. Easygoing people and lots of fun.
When traveling and especially leaving a place I always ask myself: could I live here? This is a sign of how much I really liked it. So far in South America and Latin America, the only place I could ever think of living is Rio De Janeiro. But now there is another place on this list; Tamarindo. Why? It’s exotic but still developed, which for me is a little important. I like visiting low-standard places but could never live there. The thing I liked the most is the vibe and the lifestyle. Healthy and sporty people doing yoga, surfing, exercising and enjoying fresh food. The place itself is not the most beautiful, but the vibe here just was really good. It’s actually not impossible that I will return here one day in the future to stay a month, just to enjoy the Pura Vida.
Next stop, Nicaragua!